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Staples’ new iPhone app addresses shoppers’ pain points

December 1, 2011

The new Staples iPhone app for small businesses

Office supplies retailer Staples has introduced a new mobile application for small businesses that simplifies the shopping experience in-store and on the go.

The new iPhone app, which replaces an earlier version, enables users to easily find the right ink cartridge and scan items to build a shopping list. Using the app’s store locator and inventory check feature, customers can find the nearest store with the product they are looking for.

“We are trying to make shopping fundamentally easier for our small business customers and we see the mobile app as way to solve pain points they have in the shopping experience and make it easier so they can get back to their businesses,” said Brian Tilzer, vice president of ecommerce and business development for, Framingham, MA.

“We are making it easier in the store, on the go or in the office to provide a seamless multichannel experience,” he said.

Pain points
Staples studied the shopping habits of small business customers when they were in the store, on the go and at the office to determine what the pain points are and designed the app to solve some of these. The app went through multiple iterations and many rounds of usability testing before being released.

One of the small business pain points indentified by Staples is shopping for ink cartridges without the right information.

“A small business customer who runs out of ink cartridges and comes to the store but forgets to bring the cartridge numbers can open the app and see which cartridges were brought before,” Mr. Tilzer said. “We’ve made it easy for them to keep track of cartridge numbers.”

The app also makes it easy for office administrators who need to reorder supplies by providing the ability to scan items in a supply closet, build a list of needed items and place an order.

Members of the Staples Rewards program can use the app to simplify shopping and rewards redemption by eliminating the need to bring a rewards check to the store.

“Instead of having to remember to bring in the reward check, customers will be able to pull up their rewards on the app and apply that money to what they are buying in store,” Mr. Tilzer said.

The app offers a check-in feature, which delivers special coupons and promotions when customers enter a Staples store with their iPhone.

Additionally, users can access product information as well as ratings and reviews via the app while they are shopping in-store.

The Staples Android app will be updated with similar functionality in a couple of weeks.

The app revamp follows the relaunch of Staples’ mobile site in June. The new site was designed to make shopping on the go and in the store easier while deemphasizing buying.

“We’ve seen tremendous success with it, tremendous increases in the amount of time spent on the site and in the number of page views per visit,” Mr. Tilzer said.

Staples sees a significant opportunity in mobile, social and ecommerce and is investing in these areas to support its efforts.

“We plan to triple the size of our ecommerce teams and leverage mobile, social and others to make shopping even easier for our shoppers,” Mr. Tilzer said.

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York

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